About Shea Welsh
Shea Welsh, the Baltimore-born, east coast-raised Los Angeles transplant, is a guitarist, songwriter, producer and educator. His ability to move freely through any genre keeps him at the top of many music makers' lists. Shea has logged countless hours as a session player with the industry's top producers such as Tricky Stewart on Raven Symoné’s recordings, and Daniel Lanois with The Jane Carrey Band.
As a sideman, he has shared the stage with many of the world’s finest musicians including The Edge, guitarist from U2; Flea, bassist of The Red Hot Chili Peppers; Stewart Copeland, drummer for The Police; the bands Heatwave and Peaches & Herb; and John Taylor, bassist of Duran Duran. Shea can be heard on many film and television shows including, most recently, The Disney Movie Cloud 9 and the PBS Show Coastal California.
Shea is prolific in the jazz world. He is a Blujazz Recording Artist and released his debut recording Arrival in 2017. His jazz quartet has a first Tuesday of the month residency at Trip in Santa Monica, CA. Other appearances of note include record release shows at Windmill Craftworks in Bangalore, India, An Die Musik in Baltimore, MD, and The South Bend Indiana Jazz Festival with Michelle Coltrane. He performed at the 2016 Long Island Jazz & Blues Festival, 2014, 2015 and 2018 Panama Jazz Festivals, The 2013 Miami Beach Jazz Festival with Michelle Coltrane, and Yoshi's Jazz Club in Oakland, CA in March 2014. Shea co-wrote four songs and produced and played on seven tracks from Michelle Coltrane’s new Blujazz recording Awakening, and he is the musical director for her touring band. He is sought after as a jazz sideman, with recent performances alongside saxophonist Ronnie Laws and in The Paul McDonald Big Band.
His songwriting skills have landed him placements on projects as diverse as the TV show Lincoln Heights and records by the R&B group Christion.
As a producer, Shea has worked with Michelle Coltrane on her Blujazz recording “Awakening”. He produced Renaissance Heart’s debut album as well as their new single “One World”. He has also worked with The Jane Carrey Band and emerging artists, The Hipnotics, My Serenity and Chris Monaghan.
Shea has distinguished himself as an educator as the founding director of The Shea Welsh Institute of Jazz, an award-winning collective of ensembles that have performed at the Panama Jazz Festival, John Coltrane Festival in North Carolina, and extensively throughout Los Angeles, CA. He ran the USC Thornton School of Music Summer Guitar Seminar for 18 years, and has written two instructional books for The Alfred Publishing Company: Blues Guitar Lessons Volume I and II.
Shea is a concerned environmentalist and philanthropist, realized through his work as the Director of Education for Geoveristy, which is a creative community that combines the performing and visual arts with conservation, research and community outreach, set in the rainforest of Panama in the 13,000 acre Mamoní Valley Preserve.
Shea holds a Bachelor's Degree in Jazz and Commercial Music from Towson University in Baltimore Maryland, and a Master of Music Degree in Studio/Jazz Guitar from The University of Southern California Thornton School of Music.
Shea welsh & HOPE DIAMOND
The Shea Welsh & Hope Diamond Blues Experience is his newest project that showcases his lifelong love of the blues. The band’s sound features Shea’s fiery guitar playing along with Hope’s dynamic vocals a la Buddy Guy meets Koko Taylor. They have recently performed at Blue Frog Studios in BC, Canada as well as Agua Caliente Casino in Palm Springs, CA.
Shea’s project, Renaissance Heart, is a global music group that merges the artistry of two-time Grammy winning vocalist Hila Plitmann and world renowned tabla master Aditya Kalyanpur. Along with special guests, they create organic, reimagined connections between classical, jazz, folk, rock and world music genres. They’ve performed at New West Summerfest, The Borrego Institute of Living Design, The Village Studios, and The El Rey Theatre. Their latest single “One World” was released on July 11th, 2023.
One of the most in-demand guitarists in Los Angeles, California, Blujazz recording artist Shea Welsh is also a noted composer, producer and educator. His jazz quartet has a monthly residency at Trip in Santa Monica, CA. His global music group, Renaissance Heart, recently released their new single “One World”. They perform regularly around the world. He produced and co-wrote for Michelle Coltrane's most recent recording "Awakening" and he is the musical director for her touring band. His latest project, the Shea Welsh & Hope Diamond Blues Experience, features Shea’s fiery guitar playing along with Hope’s dynamic vocals a la Buddy Guy meets Koko Taylor. His compositions have been featured in film and television shows such as “Lincoln Heights”. He is a professor in the guitar department at The University of Southern California running their USC Summer Guitar Seminar for eighteen years.
FIRST PERSON STORY
I’m Baltimore born, East-coast raised and a Los Angeles Transplant. I first started in music as a trumpet player in my 4th-grade school band. I fell in love with it and practiced a lot. I took lessons at school and played in the band as well as in an extracurricular brass quintet. I had my own records of my favorite trumpet players Al Hirt and Doc Severinsen that I listened to a lot.
I also remember reading Louie Armstrong’s biography which was fascinating for a kid as he led quite the adventurous life growing up in New Orleans! We had very good public school music programs in Bel Air, MD, and a suburb of Baltimore, where I grew up. It was “cool” to be in the bands. There was always music on in the house and on the car radio and coming from a large family with 6 brothers and sisters; we were always in the car driving to somebody’s sports game or boy scouts etc. So we listened to the radio a lot!
I shared a room with my older brother Chris, and around 8th and 9th grade we got our own stereo in our room. Our musical tastes started to move towards heavier rock. My first record I bought was Led Zeppelin II. That was a game changer as I remember the feeling of the aggressive guitar playing coursing through my body! At that time, a friend of the family gave us an acoustic guitar that he found at a yard sale. I began my transition from trumpet to guitar and so it went.
Through high school, I jammed with friends, and a highlight was performing Kansas’ “Carry On My Wayward Son” at my high school’s senior variety show. I ultimately ended up majoring in guitar performance which includes jazz as well as classical training at Towson University in Baltimore where I kicked everything into high gear. I auditioned into a “Top 40” band that played all over the Mid Atlantic. I developed some serious practicing habits and hung out with a few friends who would practice late into the night.
After college, I played all over MD and the surrounding areas with my own progressive jazz band, “The Shea Welsh Group,” in numerous rock and pop bands and in a classical guitar and flute duo with a Peabody Conservatory graduate Nancy Stagnitta. I gained a whole lot of experience and logged in many hours with a guitar in my hands. At this time I also started playing with a local artist “Slim Man” who had a lot of airplay around the country, so we ended up touring around the U.S. quite a bit.
Through connections I made out on the road, I ended up landing a full ride scholarship to The University of Southern California as a teaching assistant in the Studio/Jazz Guitar Department Master’s program. This facilitated the relocation to LA which I decided I had to move out of my comfort zone and take… School was quite rigorous, but I somehow managed to keep an active performing and teaching schedule going.
I started playing numerous gigs around town with my own band, shows like The Catalina Jazz Fest with Slim Man, sessions such as studio work with Raven-Symone with producer Tricky Stewart. I was also hired at the time to teach jazz bands part-time at The Crossroads School in Santa Monica. I was also hired back by USC to direct their Contemporary Music Divisions recruiting class The USC Summer Guitar Seminar.
I used all of my organizational and musical skills to also move into producing and musical directing working with many different artists including, vocalist Michelle Coltrane, daughter of Alice and John Coltrane. I produced my own record “Arrival” at the same time we worked on her record “Awakening.” We got them both signed to the Blujazz label out of Chicago. They were released in 2017, and I have been out touring worldwide promoting them ever since. I had a few notable release shows for my record in Bangalore, India, Panama and Nice, France and Michelle and I have done shows in San Francisco, Wisconsin, Indiana, Miami, and North Carolina.
I also operated my own music school for four years, “The Shea Welsh Institute of Jazz” where 6th-12th graders studied jazz at an elite level. During that time, we won four prestigious Downbeat Student Music Awards, performed all over Los Angeles, and played the John Coltrane Festival in North Carolina as well as the Panama Jazz Festival.
For the past eleven years, I have also manifested a very exhilarating position as Educational Director with the Panamanian environmental non-profit Geoversity which is preserving 12,000 acres of vital rainforest in the jungles of Panama. We perform and use the universal language of music to help spread the word about the importance of saving this ecological paradise. Jane Goodall is one of our associates that I have had the honor of working with in these efforts.
During the pandemic, while the world slowed down and touring musicians were stuck at home, I was able to manifest a dream I had of putting a world music group together. So I called some of my favorite musicians from all over the world that now reside in Los Angeles to write and jam together and we ultimately created Renaissance Heart. The global music project merges the artistry of two time GRAMMY® award winning vocalist Hila Plitmann, world renowned tabla master Aditya Kalyanpur, and me. Along with special guests, we create organic, reimagined connections between new age, classical, jazz, folk, rock and world music genres. We recently released our debut album Layers on Art of Conversation Records.